Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Sopranos: 'Luxury Lounge' (6x07)

This episode puts most of the major plot threads on hold for a little bit, to deal with Artie Bucco's issues. I was missing Artie in the first chunk of this season, but I don't know if I needed to get this much of him to make up for it. This was certainly a good episode, but it was also clearly the weakest episode of the season so far.

The most relevant stuff to the overall story arc were the two meetings between Tony and Phil. Phil is not taking the Vito revelation well, and we're clearly building up to a confrontation between Phil and Tony over the issue, and it doesn't look like Tony's going to have the support of his crew, even Christopher who's been generally loyal in the past gives him no support here.

But that seems to be the big issue next week, this week chronicles Artie's issues. Artie is the one character on the show who has remained out of the mob world. He's forever on the periphery, an observer. And seeing these guys get whatever they want without working hard for it has worn on him. He expresses this in the scene at the Bing, where Artie talks about how Tony could have sex with the stripper, while he can only look. Constantly seeing a world where people can do whatever they want without any consequences has made it difficult for him to live an honest life, and that's dropped him into this constantly self pitying state. On the boat he talks about he's lost faith in the American dream, the idea that if you work hard enough, you'll get what you want. On this show we've frequently seen people who worked hard get mixed up with mob and wind up destroyed. The credit card scam at Artie's recalls the stuff with David Scatino's sporting goods store back in year two.

Artie's frustration leads to a series of violent acts. His increasingly diminishing business makes him angry at Benny, who is able to cheat on his wife with Martina, something Artie couldn't do. When he assaults Benny, it's both because he's jealous of him and because Benny makes a mockery of all his work. Not only does Benny takes his women, he also takes the money that Artie worked hard for. This leads to a feeling that everything he does is pointless.

Tony didn't have too much to do in the episode, but the scene with Artie gives a lot of insight into where he is now. Tony is by far the smartest one on the show, and he recognizes that Artie is in much the same place that he was back at the beginning of the series, frustrated with growing older, unable to control his violent outbursts, and constantly blaming his problems on other people. So, he does something genuinely nice and refers Artie to Dr. Melfi.

Ultimately, Artie seems to find refuge in returning to what he was genuinely passionate about in the first place, cooking. At the end of the episode he's got some peace, but will cooking rabbit for his customers lead to success? It's unclear, but Tony's words clearly meant something to Artie.

The other major storyline of the episode was both hilarious and frustrating. Christopher is a character who's been something of an enigma this season, and here he starts to fall apart. Clearly he's still got major issues from Adrianna's death, frequently bringing it up as an excuse for any bad behavior. He's back on drugs here, and more importantly, again does something stupid and thinks of short term goals rather than long term priorities. His attempts to intimidate Ben Kingsley are likely what ruin the film project. He's unable to deal with a world where he's not at the top of the food chain. So, seeing Kingsley get given thousands of dollars worth of merchandise is painful for someone who loves to get stuff without working for it. Kingsley's celebrity status is something he can't get, and unlike most of the people he deals with, Kingsley isn't going to be intimidated.

The show always does great celebrity cameos, Jon Favreau's appearance back in season two was a large part of why 'D-Girl' was my favorite episode of the whole series. This doesn't reach that level, but Kingsley is fantastic. Considering he appearance in "BloodRayne," it's not unrealistic to expect him to sign on to this film, but apparently the tactics that work in Jersey don't work out in Hollywood. This leads to the hilariously bizarre scene where Christopher mugs Lauren Bacall. This is the sort of high profile job that Christopher should know is stupid to do, but he lets his jealousy overwhelm his logic.

Things with Christopher are building towards something, he's very resentful about the Adrianna thing, and we've got the continuing development of this plot with the Arabs. It's great that we've got an Orthodox Jew helping out people who are potentially Arab terrorists, and that was a nice throwback reference to early season one.

This episode had some good stuff, but at this point the really interesting thing is the continuing development of Tony's morality, and we don't get much of that. I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens with Vito next week, and hopefully we'll get some followup on Meadow and Finn as well.

1 comment:

www.vizcaya-3d.com said...

The guy is definitely just, and there's no doubt.